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Greetings again from the darkness. Here's what happens when you don't
read carefully. I picked this from the Dallas International Film
Festival schedule because I assumed it was a documentary. I was a bit
shocked to discover that it's a biopic from director Stephen Bradley,
starring his wife Deirdre O'Kane as Christina Noble. Fortunately, Ms.
O'Kane and Ms. Noble are friends and the passion and respect shown in
the performance allows the film to deliver the message and pay tribute
to such an amazing woman.
If you are unaware of the Christina Noble Children's Foundation, it's worth researching her inspirational story. The film picks up her childhood in Ireland (with fabulous Gloria Cramer Curtis as young Christina). We see the gradual destruction of her family due to her mother's death and her father's (Liam Cunningham) alcoholism. The six children are split up and Christina is raised by nuns in similar fashion to what you might have seen in Philomena or Magdalene Sisters.
This (and some visionary nightmares) turns out to be her motivation to head to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City in 1989 as a middle-aged single woman to try and make a difference for the ignored and abused street kids. Her tenacity and bulldogedness not only help raise funds, but also turn the tide for the local police and citizenry.
Christina Noble's network of homes have helped thousands of children in Vietnam and Mongolia. She is still working tirelessly today and everyday to make a difference. If you are looking for inspiration or proof that one person can make a difference ... look to Christina Noble.
I had the pleasure of seeing a screening of Noble in London a few days
ago and this film really blew me away. I had read Christina's book 'A
Bridge Across my Sorrows' and I was excited to see how the book
translated to film. Christina is played by three wonderful actresses at
different stages in her life. Gloria Cramer Curtis who plays the
younger Christina was a delight to watch. Sarah Greene who plays
teenage Christina was incredible, and she really pulls you in with her
terrific performance. Lastly, Deirdre O'Kane who plays the grown up
Christina gives an outstanding performance that will make you laugh and
cry. Supporting actors are also impressive including Ruth Negga, who
provided many laughs from the audience, and the Vietnamese children
were surprisingly good, especially the boy playing Lam.
I liked the pacing of the film, although I feel the film could have benefited with a few more scenes of Christina's childhood. If you have read Christina's book, you will notice a lot of things are not shown in the film. I can understand why the filmmakers did this, as the flashbacks needed to relate to Christina's strength and key events in her childhood.
The cinematography by Trevor Forrest was beautiful, and shot incredibly well. Another great thing about Noble is the score by Ben Foster and Giles Martin which is one of the best scores I have heard in a long time.
I am thankful for director Stephen Bradley, his wife Deirdre O'Kane and the producers for getting this film made. It's an incredible story and a film people need to see.
While this is all sourced as being based on a true story, I almost find
that hard to accept, simply because of the sheer number of hurdles
involved, on top of the appropriate naming of the titular character,
The film straddles two different arcs; on one hand is the early life of Christina, and all the hardships she faced, and it's incredibly bleak. It makes it all the more impressive to me with how bright and energetic a character Christina is by both actresses that play her as a child and a young woman, and it does feel like the same character the entire way. Christina's Irish upbringing also is somewhat familiar cinematically now as the state of Ireland's treatment of children was showcased recently in another true story, Philomena.
While her early life is simply, well, tragic, the other arc is of much more mixed tone, as she travels to Vietnam after her kids have grown up, now played by Deirdre O'Kane, and she does a great job as Christina, from the humour and tenderness to the strength and determination. She takes the role very naturally, and her portrayal of Christina is very warm, and I think part of this may be O'Kane's involvement with Christina Noble's charity beforehand, so I think her performance was strengthened by her personal investment. As she finds a calling helping the homeless children of Vietnam, and tries to figure out how to help, she serves as this great and uplifting protagonist, all the more impressive given that this is, again, actually a true story and really did happen, to at least some extent.
In Vietnam, the story isn't simply carried by O'Kane, but has a great set of supporting roles. Right off the bat, the employee at the hotel front desk that calls himself "Mr. Front Desk" or some such thing has a great role as this begrudgingly helpful curmudgeon, and almost all his lines were great, both in writing, and in performance (and I'm somewhat annoyed that I don't remember a name ever being used for him for me to give the actor proper due). The children in the film are great, and a few of them even have more involved roles, and they actually have all been, or still are, helped by Christina Noble's charity and that makes me all the more impressed by their involvement as well.
It would be very easy of me to criticise the overly dramatic nature of this film and it's lack of believability, but what's so impressive is that I don't think it actually did take that many liberties to make it the story it is, and as raw as the film is, it's genuine. It does make the film much more powerful, and the points it makes about being poor being a constant experience anywhere is a very salient one, and the way Christina steps up the challenges in Vietnam is extremely compelling. There's so many social elements on both small and large scales that this film touches upon, and that's quite impressive.
There's something I find very moving about a film with such a vibrant person as Christina Noble (as depicted, but apparently fairly accurate) that faces so many challenges with that strength.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is definitely worth seeing for a life story that is so
incredible it seems like fiction.
I had heard about Christina Noble at school, but I can see now that my teachers left out some of the horrors of her early life. She was clearly a very religious person and that comes across strongly in the film. However, the film also shows the darker sides of religious orders.
All three actresses are absolutely superb.
Emotionally, I think this is a hard film to watch not only because of the hardships the lead faces, but also the children in Vietnam. Having said that, I think it is also an important film for a lot of people. It is going to speak to people who grew up disadvantaged and people who experienced all kinds of traumas and hardships. It has a lot to say about how a victim can become powerful.
Deirdre O'Kane has great presence as the older Christina.
I definitely recommend this film. It touches on some shameful parts of Irish and world history, but it also has a lot to say about courage, perseverance and hope.
The inspirational film Noble is very enlightening. It helped me realize
that a kid's life in America can be so much easier than a kid's life in
other countries. It also inspired me to help others that are not as
fortunate as I am. The movie is very well acted, in terms of creating
believable character. Noble is a film that touched me emotionally and
mentally and definitely put a new perspective on life.
The film is about an Irish woman named Christina Noble. The movie shows three parts of Christina's life - her childhood played by Gloria Curtis, her teens and twenties played by Sarah Greene and her midlife years played by Deirdre O 'Kane. Christina has a revelation through a dream that makes her to decide to help the homeless children in Vietnam to prevent their childhood from turning into an unfortunate childhood. Christina creates very strong bonds and connections with the people in Vietnam while on her crazy adventure of helping children.
The main character, Christina Noble has a very protective, brave and emotionally strong personality. I enjoyed how the director Stephen Bradley separates the film into three parts to show Christina's difficult life as a young child and into teens and twenties. When she gets older, she starts helping kids. One of the interesting part of film is the editing which is not sorted chronologically. Instead, it is all mixed together. For example, there might be a scene showing her in her teens and twenties. Then, it's followed with one from her childhood. The next scene might show her in middle age. The acting is very believable. In fact, at one point, I found myself in tears and, at another point, smiling. The film is like an emotional roller coaster. The cinematography is also very good. It is very good. I was very impressed and inspired.
I rate this film five out of five stars and recommend it for children age 12 to 18 because of some adult content and some inappropriate language.
Reviewed by Hailee H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, go to kidsfirst dot org.
What no one's writing about so far is the artistry. This film is
beautifully shot, directed, edited. That dreaded, grey, Irish bleak is
made beautiful. Truly.
The writing is heartbreaking and the excellence of the timing makes even abuse bearable. This film entertains, is easy to watch, draws you in - all righteousness and do goodery aside. Don't be put off by the saintliness of the topic. The film is GOOD . . .
. . . til about the very last fifteen minutes and then it does drag just a little and get a tad do-goody just before the end.
But it's well worth it over-all.
If you're hesitating because: do you REALLY want to put yourself through all that (as was I), I'm writing this BECAUSE I was, and then I thought, oh, just take a look. And I did. And I was instantly surprised.
Christina Noble is rebellious and loves to sing in the pubs. She had a
tough upbringing in Ireland. Her mother died when she was young. Her
father (Liam Cunningham) was a drunk. She was raised by abusive nuns.
She leaves the orphanage and finds a friend in Joan (Ruth Negga). She
gets raped and the nuns trick her out of the ensuing child. She marries
an abusive husband and escapes with her children. She then has a vision
of the ongoing Vietnam war. In 1989, she visits Ho Chi Minh City to
fulfill her God given mission for the street kids. She battles
pedophile, bureaucracy, and prejudice with the help of Madame Linh and
businessman Gerry Shaw.
It's all very sincere and I dare not rate it any lower for the kids... For the Kids! Her life growing up in Ireland is rather interesting. There are intriguing actors. This is obviously a passion project for everybody. Despite some lesser elements, the movie holds together. The Vietnam story could use a bit more drama. It would have been helpful to have more professional help in the writing and directing.
"And what's your name? My name is Mr. Reception Desk. That's a nice
"Noble" is nothing more than a biographical film about the (for me anyway unknown) Irish Christina Noble (Deirdre O'Kane). After a troubled and difficult life she has set a noble (Yep) target. Namely to offer the street children of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam a better future. Mostly you see Christina in Vietnam moving heaven and earth to achieve her goal. A not so obvious task in which she has to convince the authorities and at the same time she tries to jolt foreign businessmen's consciences, so they are generous enough with their financial support. And so she tries to set up a shelter for those children in postwar Vietnam.
There's one thing you have to admit. This exceptional lady has sufficient reserves in terms of perseverance. Despite all the setbacks in her youth and the opposition she faces in Vietnam, she never gives up. And this thanks to her positive attitude. Throughout the film you're looking back at the turbulent life of Christina. It all starts in the slums of Dublin in the 40s. As a little girl (Gloria Cramer Curtis) she dreams of becoming such a famous singer like Doris Day. When her mother dies of tuberculosis and her father is unable to support his family (due to an alcohol problem), she ends up in a nunnery. In later life she's (Sarah Greene) a victim of a gang rape which in turn results in an unwanted pregnancy and her newborn son to be adopted. After moving to Birmingham with her best friend Joan (Ruth Negga), she is confronted with a cheating spouse and domestic violence. So you can safely say that Christina's life wasn't exactly rosy.
Perhaps that's why Christina demonstrates these unconstrained efforts when she arrives (thanks to a vision) in Vietnam. She is shocked by the appalling conditions in which children have to survive there. Perhaps the traumas of her own life are an extra motivation and she wants to give these poor children what she had missed all her life. A bit of security, affection, love and a hope for a better future. For her, poverty in Vietnam is equal to that what she experienced in Ireland.
Although the film lends itself to become a melodramatic tearjerker, they knew to avoid this anyway. Obviously Christina Noble isn't the only benefactress in this ruthless world. But her commitment and determination ensured that "The Christina Noble Children's Foundation" has already helped hundreds of thousands of children. Most likely this film will be broadcasted as an ordinary television drama. But the performances of the different Christina's are of an exceptionally high level. And despite the realistic and deadly serious story-line, they managed to incorporate a sliver of humor by means of a hilarious hotel receptionist. And in all honesty. This time it wasn't really bothering me that they used such a predictably happy ending once again.
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Noble is much more than just a film biography. It tells without
hagiography the story of Christine Noble, who against all the odds,
survived trauma after trauma in her native Ireland and went on to help
literally thousands in Vietnam.
The film-making isn't top drawer, but, boy, the true story is - there are good central performances by the Christines at their different ages and attention has been spent on costuming etc, in the Sixties segments - but this is really a film about one woman's extraordinary resolve to fight poverty against seemingly impossible odds.
This is a film I would warmly recommend - it has more to say about determination, perseverance and resolve than most films and it does not shy away or coat over its subject, It's well handled and well delivered and well worth your time.
This is based on the real life of Christina Noble. She is an Irishwoman
who hails from Dublin. The film chronicles her life in flashback form.
But we start in Vietnam in 1989; the terrible wars are over but never
forgotten I fear. The scars are everywhere including in the many street
children, some of whom have been orphaned and others have trauma that
has left them fending for themselves in a country that is trying to
rebuild itself with scant resources.
Enter Christina and she immediately knows that she has to help, not so easy in a country that has had enough interference from foreigners. We also see what happened to her when she was growing up in Ireland and the abuse and suffering she had to endure. Some of her experiences would be enough to make the strongest give up, buy she seems made of very rare stuff indeed.
To say this is inspirational is an understatement and I stumbled on this as it stars Deidre O'Kane who played the mother in the great 'Moone Boy' series. She is simply superb in this as indeed are the entire cast. Special mention to Liam Cunningham who plays her alcoholic father and puts in a brutal but convincing performance. I had few expectations of this but once it got started I was blown away. This is one you will want to recommend to your friends.
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